“Education is the most powerful weapon which you an use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela
Education – it is what trains the future generations, the future leaders of the world, the future who will be there for us when we are old. How is it working so far?
I think we can do better. Starting with the very basics of education – kindergarten and grade school. Children enter into grade school, some a little apprehensive, but for the most part they are bursting at the seams with excitement about learning. Most of them know without a doubt what they want to be when they “grow up”. They love their teacher and their teacher loves them. The equation is teacher + student = learning.
As they progress along in grade school, different personalities start to emerge. Home lives enter into the equation to start to distract students, make them angry, and bring in anxiety. Teachers and students start to clash as the dynamics begin to change. Students start to lose their excitement, they no longer are happy about life. They want to be doing more hands on projects. They don’t want to be sitting in a desk and looking at books all day, but as “teachers” we know what is best right? So, we make them conform, because that is the “best” way to do it. And, if kids don’t want to conform, we say they must have a learning disability so we “drug” them. We don’t try to fix their broken home, life. We don’t try to change the way we teach them, we just “drug” them and push them through the system, because that is the “right” way to do it.
By the time high school rolls around, very few of them know what they want to be when they grow up anymore. We have beaten that out of them. They hate school. They hate learning. They do it because the only other choice is to “drop out” and end up at a place where they don’t want to be. Drugs, alcohol, sex, etc, all play a role, and will drastically alter the course of their lives. The choice is to persevere, or quit. What a choice to have to make. Most of them already have very broken homes, and they have no good role models. Some teachers till try hard to love them and teach them to love learning, but by this point, unfortunately most teachers are there for the pay check, not because they love the students. There is no teaching the students to love learning, it is just teaching them the information that they need to know to pass the tests, because that then shows that the teacher has done his part, and the student is either “smart” or “fails”. How fair is all of this?
Somewhere along the public education assembly line, we have failed our children. Somewhere along the way, in the homes of these children, we have failed them. Where did we go wrong? Where did the breakdown happen?
Did it happen when the teachers started thinking more about the paycheck, than the student? Did it happen when the kids started having an opinion, but we offer them “drugs”, rather than try and work with their opinions and needs? Did it happen when we decided as parents that family isn’t our number one priority, and we lost sight of what is important for our children? Did it happen when we got involved in alcohol and drugs, and brought violence into our homes? Did it happen when we started accepting media in our homes that isn’t suitable for children, but we turn a blind eye and allow it in anyways?
Where did we go wrong? What kind of leaders are we raising for our future generations? Is it possible to fix it? I don’t know if we can fix it all, but one day at a time, we can change, one child at a time, one teacher at a time, one home at a time.
As teachers we can love our students, even if they don’t fit the assembly line mould. We can love them for who they are and embrace their differences. We can use these differences and teach them to excel because of them. We can teach them to love learning by showing them that we love learning. Show them how to learn. Show them that the world is open for them to learn anything. There are no rules for learning anymore, those rules were all broken a long time ago. There is always a way to learn, whatever you want to learn. Learning can happen in so many different ways.
As parents, we can start caring more for our children, than ourselves. We can start to monitor what comes into our home. We can start to share in the learning of our children. Learning should be a priority in our homes. We can show our children that families are important. Whatever circumstances our family finds ourselves in, we can show them that it is important. We can show them how to care, how to become the leaders of the future. We can show them by example. We can teach them that there are values in the world that should be taken seriously. We can encourage them to be the best that they can be. We can help them, show them the way. We can be better than we are.
Can we change the way of education? Can we change the world? No we can’t change it all, but we can change ourselves, our teaching, our learning, our children, our parenting, and our faith. We can change the way that we as individuals, view education, learning, and growth. We can each day, make one more change, and one day at a time, change the world.